Not Just The Food

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

But also a Really Real Poverty Post.

Last night I got a quick reminder that food insecurity doesn’t end just because there is food in the house.

I was food insecure for a really long time. Parker, Kidlet and I relied on food pantries and handouts from friends and family and there were a lot of times I didn’t know how I was making it through the month. There were times I didn’t know where the next meal was coming from. There were times I ate less or didn’t eat because I was making sure everyone else got enough. There were times I ate food I didn’t like because throwing it away meant one less meal later in the month.

It hasn’t been like that in a few years now. I have plenty of food and even have problems with my limited cabinet space. (How many jars of borscht does one person need, love?) If we run out of an ingredient, I can replace it. If I change my mind about what I want for dinner, I can normally go buy something else. By logistical standards, I am no longer food insecure.

Last night I tried a new noodle replacement. Edamame noodles. They weren’t bad on their own, but mixed in with spaghetti sauce it was a horrible failure.

It was bad.

Wonder Woman couldn’t even hide her hatred of it and I don’t blame her.

I easily made her more (regular) noodles to eat with the rest of the spaghetti sauce while I tried like hell to eat mine.

I tried, I really tried.

But eventually I threw it away.

And then my brain told me, “You can’t eat anything else because you just wasted perfectly good food and there may not be enough food this month.”

Now, I know that’s bullshit. That food was NOT perfectly good.

It was perfectly horrible.

And I’m looking around my kitchen at bags of food sitting on the floor that wouldn’t fit into cabinets. I know I have a freezer that will barely stay closed because I just went shopping. I know there is plenty of food. I know there is money for more food.

But food insecurity doesn’t end just because there is food. Food insecurity is a trauma that doesn’t really go away that quickly.

I went to bed hungry last night. Unable to push past the voice that told me I wasn’t allowed to eat because I’d wasted the food I’d been allotted.

And yeah, one night without dinner isn’t the end of the world. I’m sure there are even those who are saying “You could afford to miss a few meals” (Oh, is that just my internal voice? I’m sure I heard it somewhere first. Who the fuck gave me these messages.)

Anyway, my point isn’t that I missed eating dinner last night. It’s that this stuff has lasting effects that a lot of people don’t think about. The internalized messages, because of poverty, that are so hard to overcome even after things stabilize.

It’s not just about getting food in the houses of people who are living in poverty.

It isn’t just about the food.

Wait For It

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

But also a Really Real Mental Health Post.

One of those that blur the lines because in the days after Parker died it was hard to tell where grief ended and depression began, where mania subsided and constant running for distraction took over.

That first year was probably the hardest year of my life. I found dozens of different methods to cope, trying one thing after another, some of them helping, others being left behind. One thing that kept me going was making playlists based on where I was in my grieving process. There was”Cry” and “Remembering Her” and “Joy” and the one that got the most play was the “You Got This” playlist.

One of the songs on there was “Wait For It” from Hamilton.

For me, that was my song that told me no matter how bad I felt in that moment, if I just kept fighting, things would get better. I just had to wait for it. There were nights that my suicidal thoughts were screaming in my ear, urging me to join Parker out of desperation to see her again. I would put “Wait For It” on repeat, blasting it through headphones trying to drown out the thoughts. It was one of my anthems urging me to just hold on.

I listened to the entire Hamilton soundtrack on repeat hoping that one day they’d put it on TV so that I could actually see it. Seeing it in person didn’t even cross my mind, because that was outside the realm of possibility for me. It wasn’t even on my radar. That was something that other people dreamed of, my hopes were much simpler than that.

But in the three years since then my life has changed. I’ve started seeing more of life, started seeing there is more than just survival. I knew it wasn’t likely, but just maybe, one day I’d get to see Hamilton in person. The soundtrack was such a huge part of my life, I knew the lyrics by heart, seeing it preformed would be amazing.

Tickets went on sale locally. Of course they were way outside of my price range, and they were so hard to get. I knew there was no way.

And then Wonder Woman calls me to tell me some friends were taking us to see Hamilton as an engagement gift.

What?!?!?

This can’t be real.

I spent weeks just knowing it wasn’t real. That any day now someone would tell me it was all bullshit. That I wasn’t really going. I had misunderstood, they had changed their mind, I dreamed it. I refused to get excited, I just got anxious. More and more anxious.

And then the night is here. We walk up the street and I see the marquee. Holy Shit! I’m going to see Hamilton.

Such a mix of emotions the entire show. While there was amazement and excitement and awe, there was also this mix of grief and remembrance. What if she had just realized that she could wait for it. That life could be like this. That maybe one day she could sit in a theater and see something as amazing as Hamilton.

But holding Wonder Woman’s hand, sitting beside her and feeling her emotions, feeling my own emotions, just being there. Actually being present in that moment. The audience disappeared and it was just us and the stage. My anxiety was gone, my grief was gone,

I was enthralled.

I’ve had a hard life, there’s no denying that. I’ve been through more than a lot of people can imagine. I still have a lot to process and heal. But my life is good. Honestly my life is pretty amazing and as hard as it is to see sometimes, I believe I will continue to make forward progress It might be slow progress, but it will be forward progress towards better things. And you know what?

I’m willing to wait for it.

Poor Me

This is a Really Real Pity Party Post.

Sometimes my financial situation gets to me. Tonight, I was doing the dishes, listening to a podcast that happened to be about plus size fashion, and it hit me.

I’m never going to be able to afford those kinds of clothes!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m thankful to be where I’m at compared to where I was. Three years ago I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to pay the rent each month and I never knew whether I could keep the lights on. Three years before that I was living in a homeless shelter. But even now, I’m getting help to stay afloat. I mostly wonder if I’ll ever be financially independent.

I’m afraid I’ll never be.

But today that wasn’t what bothered me.

I want more than the bare minimum. I want to be that person who can afford to do shit without worrying about it. Today I’m feeling greedy and I’m honestly in tears because I know that even if I get a degree and get a job and get off disability I’m never going to be “wealthy”. I’m always going to struggle. I will be lucky to ever reach middle class.

I’m in a better place than I was, but I still send a frantic text message asking for money when mobility leaves me and I have to take a Lyft, because that $30 just wasn’t in the budget this month.

I’m lucky to have family that helps me out that way, I appreciate that I have the help, but damnit. I don’t want to need the help. I want to be the person in a good enough position that I can hand out help and not think twice about it. I want to be the person with a house and cars and the ability to travel around the world. I want to be able to see places and do things.

I want to be spontaneous in really big ways and not worry that I won’t be able to buy food at the end of the month because of it.

I want more than poverty and for just this moment, I want even more than middle class.

I want more than I’ll ever have, and tonight, I’m having a really hard time with it. Life really dealt me a shitty set of cards and I played them to the best of my ability, but that doesn’t change where I’m at.

Normally I don’t care about money, so I’m not sure why I’m so upset about it tonight. I’m not sure why it’s such a big deal right now.

It would be nice to live that life though.

And it would have been even nicer to have a life that would have allowed me to get there.

How far?

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I’ve written about this before, but it’s been getting worse again and I feel like not enough people talk about this type of mental health. It seems too “strange” to put it into words, and also, everyone experiences it differently which makes it harder to find commonalities. The typical type of dissociation that everyone can relate to, is zoning out when driving and having no real memory of going from point A to point B, maybe even driving home when you meant to go to the store because you were so out of it and just automatically followed your normal route.

This is my experience of it.

It happens at least once a day right now, but sometimes twice, or even three times. Sometimes more, maybe, I didn’t always count. But, I’ve started keeping track on my DBT diary card.

How big are my hands? Definitely too big for my body.

How far away is my computer screen? Why is it across the room when I’m sitting right here?

Why are sounds echoing when the room hasn’t changed?

My face seems to flicker, it feels like trying to watch something on Pay Per View when you didn’t pay for it, back in the days when that was a thing.

A mouth feel like biting on Styrofoam, and a taste to go with it. I don’t actually know what Styrofoam tastes like, but this must be it.

Why is everything too small for my hands?

How far does my spoon have to travel from my bowl to my face? Feeding myself becomes a chore, no longer an automatic task.

Don’t forget to chew.

My thoughts are slowed, I feel as if my speech is too. Those around me say they can’t notice anything different.

Derealization.

Dissociation.

Having names for it helps. It is a known thing, just a shift in my perception of reality, nothing has actually changed. Knowing I don’t seem to act differently to anyone else helps too.

I’ve learned to just keep moving through it, not let it stop me from whatever I was doing. It seems to pass quicker that way.

Some people are able to identify triggers that bring these episodes on. I haven’t found any regular ones yet. I know that talking about it makes it try to happen, but I can often fight that. I’ve been holding it back the entire time I’ve been writing this. Sometimes it happens when I’m bored and lost in thought, other times when I’ve read too long at the computer, sometimes when I’m stressed, sometimes when I’m happy, sometimes none of those seem to apply.

For some people grounding helps bring them out of an episode. For me, ignoring it and moving forward helps better. Grounding or mindfulness exercises just makes me focus on it and gives it more power.

Is dissociation something you cope with? If you feel comfortable sharing, let me know what yours feels like and your coping methods.

Lets shine some light into all of those dark spaces and help end the stigma.

 

Oh No, All Alone.

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

Today is one of those days where the only thing on my calendar is my date with gym.

Side note: Gym sure is a lucky person, they get to see me almost every day but I’m not quite sure I enjoy our dates. I’ve considered breaking up with them because sometimes I feel like the relationship is causing me pain, but I guess there are benefits in the long run.

Anyway, as I was saying. Today the only thing I have going on is a trip to the gym in a few minutes (yay for best friends who are also gym buddies and the accountability that goes along with that).  After the gym I have a long day of nothing except school work.

Lots of sitting around the house.

Lots of quiet.

Lots of time for my brain to get wrapped up in this depression.

This is the prime time for a problem.

I hate that being still and alone becomes such a problem for my brain.

And it’ll be worse later this week.

Wonder Woman is going out of town for a long weekend and as much as I’d love to say I’m a strong independent woman, I’m also scared of where my brain is going to go during my time alone. I have a whole four day weekend with no real plans, no real desire to make plans, every desire to hibernate, and every bit of knowledge that sitting still will let my brain wander into dangerous territory.

It’s too easy to let suicidal thoughts take hold when I’m alone and still.

But I’m always reminded of the days that I needed a babysitter because Parker was leaving town. I hate feeling like I’m still like that. I hate feeling like nothing has changed.

Maybe this time will be different. Maybe I’ll be just fine. Maybe I’ll suddenly be interested in everything around the house and I won’t have a problem.

Not likely.

I’ve grown so much but yet sometimes I feel like nothing has changed.

I’m a strong, independent, scared-to-be-alone, woman.

Brains are dumb.

Lonely, I’m So Lonely, I Have Anxiety, So I’m Not Alone.

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

Today, I ended up being just like that kid sitting all alone in the corner of the party.

You see, I won’t skate anymore. I fell 8 months ago, or so, and got a bad concussion. It wasn’t my first concussion on skates. I’m not stable enough and my weight plays a large part in that.

I can’t risk knocking my head around again this soon. It takes the brain a really long time to fully heal.

Besides that, I just want to be smaller and stronger the next time I get up on 8 wheels.

Anyway, this made me just like that kid sitting all alone in the corner of the party.

There were other people at the party that didn’t skate, but they weren’t there from derby, and they seemed to know other people at the party.

The only people that I knew at the party were from derby, and all of the derby people, including Wonder Woman, were skating the whole time.

At least Wonder Woman skated up to the wall to say hi to me every once in awhile.

But I was still just like that kid sitting all alone in the corner of the party.

I couldn’t bring myself to walk up to one of the groups of people I didn’t know. And by the end, when derby people started taking breaks, I was so wrapped up in my own anxiety that I couldn’t even walk over to talk to them.

I had started to feel like I was back in grade school. Always on the outside of the crowd. Always left out. Always alone except for the thoughts in my head that wouldn’t shut up.

I convinced myself they didn’t want me around.

I decided I was just like that kid sitting all alone in the corner of the party.

Oh no . . . That’s today.

scientific calculator ii

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

Mentally, I still feel like shit.

But a little less like shit then I felt yesterday, so that’s a plus, I guess.

The difference between, I really want to die

and

I just don’t want to live.

And for those who have never been here, there’s a distinctive difference.

Today is a good day for that difference, because today I have a final exam to go take for my health class.

A final exam that I may not have shown up for yesterday, but today I’ll at least show up.

I all but aced my English class.  Two points shy of a perfect score.  I’m still waiting on a few grades to come back from health, but I think I’ll pull at least a b, depends on how I do on this final that I didn’t study for.

Yesterday was rough. I spent most of the day in bed with covers over my head. I got up to cook but didn’t clean and my sink is overflowing with dishes.

We had dill pickle chicken wings for dinner which were both amazing and time consuming. Even though I baked them, my house smells like fried food, which is kind of annoying.

When I’m depressed like that I’m also super triggery, although I hate the word trigger. But the wrong sound from a video game or the wrong scene in a movie will go straight through me and I’ll need to run and hide, or I’ll want to fight back against it. But I can’t find my words to ask Wonder Woman to turn the TV down or that I can’t handle that movie right now. Sometimes I’ll put headphones in so that I’m not a bother, so that I can just zone out into my own world at the computer.

Other times I run away to the bedroom, into my safe space. Under my down comforter with the covers pulled up over my head. Just enough light filters through that it’s not completely dark in there. The sound is muffled like when there’s a few feet of snow outside.

I feel safe.

I always quietly hope that Wonder Woman will eventually come and check on me even if I can’t quite tell her all of what is wrong.

She is part of my safe space.

I also hate that I just walk away without telling her that I’m going. Words are hard when I feel like that. I want to shrink into my own skin.

I don’t want to admit that I need to hide from the world and speaking it out loud makes it too real.

Makes it too noticeable.

Makes me feel like I’m over reacting.

Like I’m being a drama queen.

But today is better. Today the sounds aren’t quite as loud and I don’t need to run.

Today I don’t want to die.

I’m just not quite sure I’m ready to live.